Talk of the (outta) town

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

Alex Tanguay knows he's got to get out of town.

Not necessarily permanently, although that's a very real possibility, but at least for the summer to get away from the trade talk that will no doubt start up the second the playoffs are over.

His wife is due to give birth any minute, but once mother and baby are healthy, the Tanguays are making the trip to Quebec City.

"From there, we'll head back home," said the Calgary Flames left-winger, who was flustered by trade rumours up to the deadline. "I know what's going on. I don't want to be distracted by all the talks that are going to be going on. We'll try to keep a low profile, then once the baby is ready to go, we'll fly home."

Home may be an entirely different city next year if you read between the lines of what Tanguay, general manager Darryl Sutter and head coach Mike Keenan said yesterday.

"I'm sure they're going to have to make some decisions over the course of the summertime. My name was speculated a lot over the course of the wintertime and rightfully so, I think," said Tanguay, who finished fourth in team scoring with 18 goals and 58 points despite a salary of $5.375 million.

"Now with the new economics of the new NHL, when you're given a big contract, you're expecting big things."

In the same breath, Tanguay suggested he wasn't happy with his role.

"As a player, when you're given that kind of money, you expect certain ice time," he said, tempering his words with self-criticism for allowing the rumours to distract him.

"As a player, you don't want to blame anybody else for what's happening to us. Maybe, at times, I wasn't as focused as I should have been, focusing on the right things. I wasn't maybe working as hard because I let other things affect me. That's my own fault. I've got nobody else to blame for that.

"But, as I said, I want to play more. The more you play, the better you play. That's a given for anybody."

Sutter said Tanguay's average of nearly 19 minutes a game in the regular season means he was pretty "well utilized" and that he expects the left-winger to be a 30-goal scorer for the Flames.

Talking about the salary cap in his press conference, Sutter seemed to infer a decision that will have to be made regarding Tanguay's big salary.

"The tough decisions are the guys who aren't earning what they're making," said Sutter. "Those are the tough challenges."

Asked if he wanted to remain a Flame if things remained the same next year -- being used as a penalty killer, and often on the second power-play unit instead of the first, Tanguay didn't respond with a yes.

"We'll see about that," he said. "Obviously, there's a time in your career when you have to look (out) for yourself.

"Now I've got a lot of time to think about what happened and oversee the possibilities for next year. I wouldn't see why I wouldn't like to be a Flame. This is a good team, this is a great organization ... obviously, I want to play, and I want to play more. We'll see what happens."

Sounds like a guy who is an unrestricted free agent rather than one who is under contract.

Even Keenan hedged when asked if Tanguay would be a key part of the core going forward.

"That could be answered better by Alex, because Alex has to make up his mind exactly what's most important for him in terms of moving forward in his career," said Keenan, who commended the 28-year-old on adapting to the penalty-killing role he was handed and growing into it.

For now, though, Tanguay has just one role in mind.

"Babysitting," he said. "My wife is due any moment now.

"I'll rest and try to get ready physically for next year. Mentally, I'll try to get away from the game as much as possible and just re-focus. This has been, certainly, one of the hardest years I've ever had to go through. I've got to find a way to get my game back, get my game back in order, get my timing back, get my confidence back.

"The best way for me to do that will be to rest, work hard as I possibly can and get ready for next year."

Wherever that may take place.


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